by Hale Thompson, Guest Blogger at Netroots Nation 2011

After listening to Dan Pfeiffer, President Obama’s Communication Director, defend the President’s leadership on LGBT issues, I wondered how the LGBT strategy session would play out. Of course, I find strategy and LGBT issues compelling in their own rights, but I have to wonder how we move forward on issues at the federal level. And while I expected more conflict and even some drama in the strategy session, the format helped to prevent sparks from flying. Here’s the agenda:

Review the strengths, weaknesses of current strategies and develop a new one(s) for the following goals:

  1. DADT
  2. ENDA
  3. DOMA repeal
  4. UAFA

Sounds simple enough, right? We also had to choose a perspective from which to discuss the strategies we have employed on these issues: 1) “insider” advocate, 2) “outsider” advocate, and 3) blogger. Given that I have only actively worked on ENDA, I sat at an “outsider” advocacy table. Here’s some of the takeaways:

  1. As a movement, we might be better served by focusing on more “bottom-up” strategies like how to build stronger coalitions across issues (e.g., the Dream Act and EFCA are QUEER issues, and ENDA is not simply a trans issue), rather then “top-down” strategies like focusing on which politicians *might* support us on the most politically expedient of our issues.
  2. We need to do more education within our own community; racism, xenophobia, transphobia and classism within our own communities make bottom-up strategies challenging if not exasperating.
  3. LGBT media outlets need to step up and produce more positive representations of transgender stories and lives. Check out Original Plumbing or New England GLAD’s Everyone Matters on Youtube, for two very different but important examples. For tips on how to produce effective media representations, see my post from yesterday, Lessons from Hollywood.

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